Updated: Building-by-Building Monthly Condo Fees

One of the most common questions asked by first time condo buyers -- especially in Austin where the popularity of condos is rapidly on the rise -- is how much individual buildings charge in monthly condo fees.

Condo fees fund the daily operations and maintenance of most condo buildings. They cover security, landscaping, cleaning of common area, common area energy use, maintenance, and other key building functions. On average, our research shows, condo unit owners can expect to pay $0.42 / SF / per month or $420 in monthly condo fees for a 1,000 SF unit. For more information on total condo costs, check out our detailed posting on condo cost of ownership.

Looking at detailed MLS records on a broad range of units and through tips from buyers, we've calculated the rough fees for most of the major downtown condo buildings. The fees are universally calculated on a dollar-per-square foot basis that typically remains constant on all units throughout each building. So, condo fees are not higher for more expensive units, or units with more bedrooms, or units on higher floors compared to less desirable units of the same size in the same building.

The prices in new buildings that we have looked at are surprisingly varied -- they range from $0.28 / SF / Month to $0.64 / month -- an amazingly broad range. If anyone has numbers for other buildings, send them to us and we will add them to the list. Apprearing for the time on the list is Spring with monthly condos fees of $0.38 per square foot.

Here is our updated list of condo fees by project:

Fee by Building - - - - - $ / SF / Month
Avenue Lofts
.................$0.28
Milago
.......................$0.31
The Sabine
...................$0.33
360
..........................$0.33
Plaza Lofts
..................$0.33
The Shore
....................$0.36
Spring...................... $0.38
Five Fifty Five Condos.......$0.40
W Hotel & Residences
.........$0.61
Four Seasons Residences
......$0.61
Austonian
.... . . . . . . . .$0.64
Average......................$0.42

Austonian Condo Fees Set a New Record!

The Austonian is going to be nice. At 56-stories, it will be the tallest building in Austin. In fact, it would be the tallest residential building in San Francisco. It has a beautiful pool and a dog park with a special doggie toilet.

These luxury features, however, are not free. Units in the Austonian start at $500K and top out at more than $7 million -- more than the selling price of almost any apartment or single family home in the history of Austin. On top of this, residents will pay the highest condo fees of any project in the city -- an amazing $0.64 per square foot per month which equates to almost $1,300 per month for a 2,000 square foot unit.

Condo fees fund the daily operations and maintenance of most condo buildings. They cover security, landscaping, cleaning of common area, common area energy use, maintenance, and other key building functions. Prior to the introduction of the W and Four Seasons Residences, the highest condo fees in Austin were $0.40 per square foot and the average was a low $0.34. At $0.64, the fees at the Austonian are the highest in the city. According the sources, the $0.64 fee is actually a reduction from the $0.67 per square foot which was originally offered to buyers.

Here is our updated list of condo fees by project:

Fee by Building - - - - - $ / SF / Month
Avenue Lofts
.................$0.28
Milago
.......................$0.31
The Sabine
...................$0.33
360
..........................$0.33
Plaza Lofts
..................$0.33
The Shore
....................$0.36
Five Fifty Five Condos
.......$0.40
W Hotel & Residences
.........$0.61
Four Seasons Residences
......$0.61
Austonian
.... . . . . . . . .$0.64
Average......................$0.42

Condo Sales: How Firm are They?

While the mortgage lending crisis seems to be easing, jumbo mortgage rates remain significantly higher than they were just two months ago. During this period, many projects have announced stellar sales and reservations of new units brought on the market during this awkward period.

So what's the deal? Is the Austin market so strong that people keep on buying as rates go up? Is everyone in town paying in cash? Is there really demand for another 136 buildings? The answer is no. In reality, some of the buildings have made the reservation process so painless that with $5,000 or $10,000 and a dream you can reserve a unit. If interest rates rise, contractual provisions may allow you out of the contract. If you can't get financing, you get your money back. In fact, at some buildings, the deposit is fully refundable. Go ahead, reserve a unit and then decide if you want to live downtown. If not, just ask for your money back.

For example, the W Hotel and Residences has a $10,000 fully refundable deposit policy. While they report that they have "sold" 150 of their 196 units, this number will certainly drop when the hard earnest money is due at ground-breaking in October, or when some occupants find out that they will not qualify for a jumbo loan.

This isn't true for every project: once a building commences construction the deposit requirements typically become much more strict with as much as 10% of purchase price due to the developer. It's the buildings still in pre-construction sales whose "sales" are the hardest to gauge.

The Monthly Cost of Luxury Living

Condo fees fund the daily operations and maintenance of most condo buildings. They cover security, landscaping, cleaning of common area, common area energy use, maintenance, and other key building functions.

With this posting, we are publishing the condo fees of two new ultra-luxury projects, The W Hotel & Residences and the Four Seasons Residences, for the first time. Our previous analysis has noted that he prices in the new buildings that we have looked at are surprisingly constant -- they have varied from $0.28 / SF / Month to $0.40 / month -- an amazingly tight range. With these two new projects, this is no longer the case. According to our research, the condo or home owner association fees at both buildings are set at $0.61 per month -- 50% higher than any other building we have reported on and 85% higher than middle-of-the-road projects like 360. While it should be no surprise that the Four Seasons and W are more expensive than the Hilton, it's sets a new and unprecedented price for luxury condo living in Austin.

Almost universally, Austin condo fees are calculated on a dollar-per-square foot basis. The rate typically remains relatively constant on all units throughout each building. So, condo fees are not higher for more expensive units, or units with more bedrooms, or units on higher floors compared to less desirable units of the same size in the same building. The only thing that matters is the number of interior square feet. If anyone has numbers for other buildings, send them to us and we will add them to the list.

Here are the updated building-by-building statistics:

Fee by Building - - - - - $ / SF / Month
Avenue Lofts
.................$0.28
Milago
.......................$0.31
The Sabine
...................$0.33
360
..........................$0.33
Plaza Lofts
..................$0.33
The Shore
....................$0.36
Five Fifty Five Condos
.......$0.40
W Hotel & Residences
.........$0.61
Four Seasons Residences
......$0.61
Average......................$0.40

Reserving a Condo: Up-front Payment Requirements

In July, more than 100 Austin condo buyers reserved units in projects such as the Austonian, the Four Seasons, and the W Hotel & Residences. All three of these projects have one thing in common: they are currently empty lots. Actually, in the case of the Four Seasons Residences, the building site is currently a very busy hotel parking lot.

In the current hot condo market, top projects will sell out before the first ceremonial shovel of dirt is removed from the lot. In these circumstances, buyers will be required to pay deposits years before they will be able to occupy their newly selected home. The deposit requirements vary widely among projects. Typically, buyers will be required to pay between 3% and 10% of the purchase price of the unit in order to execute a sales contract. The projects that are super-upscale or in high demand are the ones most likely to have high condo fees.

A typical payment scheme would be an initial payment of $5,000 or $10,000 to be paid at contract signing. This payment reserves the unit. The balance of the deposit would be paid over 90 or 120-days (or with some projects all money is due by ground-breaking). In addition, most buyers are required to pay 50-100% of upgrades such as wood floors, premium appliances, and sound system packages.

One comment we have heard from buyers is that it is currently a seller's market: prices are non-negotiable, deposit requirements are steep, reservations require a sales contract, and there are very few good deals or incentives to be had. While the 360 supposedly provided a 3% down incentive for a limited time to move some remaining units, these sorts of incentives are hard to come by and almost never available on the prime units that tend to sell first.

While the current market for condos may be a sellers market, this won't be true for every project that comes along over the next couple of years. The name brand projects such as the Four Seasons, the W Hotel & Residences will see high demand from people who value the brand. Other projects, like the tall and reasonably-priced 360, will also sell well. For the other downtown projects, competition for buyers will be fierce. It is inevitable that some buyers will be able to negotiate better deals, free upgrades, or reduced deposit requirements by shopping around and playing projects against each other.

Updated: Condo Fees by Building

As we have written before, one of most common questions asked by first time condo buyers -- especially in Austin where the popularity of condos is rapidly on the rise -- is how much individual buildings charge in monthly condo fees.

Condo fees fund the daily operations and maintenance of most condo buildings. They cover security, landscaping, cleaning of common area, common area energy use, maintenance, and other key building functions. On average, our research shows, condo unit owners can expect to pay $0.34 / SF / per month or $340 in monthly condo fees for a 1,000 SF unit. For more information on total condo costs, check out our detailed posting on condo cost of ownership.

Looking at detailed MLS records on more than 30 units on the market today, we recently calculated the rough fees for the major downtown condo buildings that currently have units on the market. Since then, we have received updated numbers from some of the projects and some additional data on two new projects. Almost universally, the fees seem to be calculated on a dollar-per-square foot basis that seems to remain relatively constant on all units throughout each building. So, condo fees are not higher for more expensive units, or units with more bedrooms, or units on higher floors compared to less desirable units of the same size in the same building.

In addition, the prices in the six new buildings that we have looked at our surprisingly constant -- they vary from $0.28 / SF / Month to $0.40 / month -- an amazingly tight range. If anyone has numbers for other buildings, send them to us and we will add them to the list.

Here are the building-by-building statistics:

Fee by Building - - - - - $ / SF / Month
Avenue Lofts
.................$0.28
Milago
.......................$0.31
The Sabine
...................$0.33
360
..........................$0.33
Plaza Lofts
..................$0.33
The Shore
....................$0.36
Five Fifty Five Condos.......$0.40
All..........................$0.34

As we get more information on additional building fees, we'll keep updating this posting!

Condo Fees by Building

One of the most common questions asked by first time condo buyers -- especially in Austin where the popularity of condos is rapidly on the rise -- is how much individual buildings charge in monthly condo fees.

Condo fees fund the daily operations and maintenance of most condo buildings. They cover security, landscaping, cleaning of common area, common area energy use, maintenance, and other key building functions. On average, our research shows, condo unit owners can expect to pay $0.34 / SF / per month or $340 in monthly condo fees for a 1,000 SF unit. For more information on total condo costs, check out our detailed posting on condo cost of ownership.

Looking at detailed MLS records on more than 30 units on the market today, we've calculated the rough fees for the major downtown condo buildings that currently have units on the market. Almost universally, the fees seem to be calculated on a dollar-per-square foot basis that seems to remain relatively constant on all units throughout each building. So, condo fees are not higher for more expensive units, or units with more bedrooms, or units on higher floors compared to less desirable units of the same size in the same building.

In addition, the prices in the six new buildings that we have looked at our surprisingly constant -- they vary from $0.28 / SF / Month to $0.40 / month -- an amazingly tight range. If anyone has numbers for other buildings, send them to us and we will add them to the list.

Here are the building-by-building statistics:

Fee by Building
$ / SF / Month
Avenue Lofts

$0.28

Milago

$0.31

The Sabine

$0.33

Plaza Lofts

$0.33

The Shore

$0.36

Five Fifty Five Condos

$0.40

All

$0.34